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Jewish Chicken Soup

It is not any soup
              it is a deep and dark mystical connection
boiling pots while ancient hands read tarot and Kabalah
                               it is an old stewing hen
boiled for hours until the salted sinewy gamy meat falls off the bones
    it is fresh herbs sage thyme bay laurel dill rosemary picked
from the garden
and boiled in the broth with parsley carrots rutabagas
                  turnips parsnips onions
                           and celery
             and the garlic
carried round my neck for weeks before crushed into the
    boiling cauldron
                              It is not any soup
it boils for hours
                for generations
for centuries
               it is love
                                   it is healing
Created when a Jew with herbs would be put to death
                     when healers were suspect
                                               it became a secret potion
medicine disguised as soup
the power of love and boiled bones and tears
                 as Cossacks circle the village planning their attack
      as the bones boil
                                   the child in the crib
receives the precious fluid, broth dropped onto the
                                                             tongue
                                                                              gently
and a sweaty lock of hair brushed aside
                               and soft boiled vegetables
their savor mingled with the pungent gamy bird
                                        She will hold you while you cry
and your belly warm and full
                              you will sleep
                                           when you awaken you will be well

Emma Rosenthal is an artist, writer educator, political activist and mother living in Southern California.